So, here I am, coming into my last race with Williams Racing, and I’m trying to enjoy every moment as much as I can, as I have since the news came out that I wouldn’t be continuing with the team.
It’s been four years with Williams - one as the Reserve and Development Driver and three as a Race Driver - so it’s been a very long journey with a lot of ups and downs.
I’ve made a lot of great relationships and friendships along the way.
Naturally, coming into the last race, there’s a little bit of sadness and disappointment.
Obviously, my goal and preference would have been to stay within the sport, but things didn’t quite work out like that.
Ahead of today’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, I haven’t prepared any differently to a ‘normal’ race weekend.
Being a back-to-back after Brazil, there’s a bit of time and travel change to get used to, so I was definitely feeling a bit more jet-lagged coming into this one! However, my usual preparation was the same prior to São Paulo, with plenty of sim work for Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
“Once the chequered flag drops, it’s difficult to know exactly how I will feel.”
As the end nears, I know it will be the last time I do all those little things that are just part of the routine, and I think that realisation is slowly creeping in. Engineering briefings, media briefings, practice sessions, debriefs - all those things that are just part of the job.
And once the chequered flag drops, it’s difficult to know exactly how I will feel.
While, naturally, I’m disappointed to be ending my time with the team, I just want to make the most of it and be grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had.
And we’ll see how I feel after.
Nicky with his team on Thursday's track walk
There have been some great moments to enjoy during my three years as a Williams Racing Driver.
My personal highlight would be my first points finish in Budapest. To pick up my first points in Formula One during a very difficult race, and to also score a double points finish for the team, it was pretty special on a personal level.
Fast forward to this year, and I had my first Q3 appearance and the first for the team this season at Silverstone, which was pretty cool in wet conditions.
Then again in wet conditions, my first points finish of the season in Suzuka was a nice feeling too.
Celebrations in Budapest, 2021
Of course, in sport and in life in general, there are always tougher times.
But in this sport in particular, there’s often not a lot in your control. There’s a saying in motorsport that there are always many more lows than highs.
“Formula One is still where I wanted to be and where I was really happy to be.”
My three years as a driver have been difficult at times.
As a team, we’ve not had the package that we wanted in order to be in a more competitive position, to fight for the results we wanted to, which can sometimes be very difficult to deal with from a motivation and enjoyment perspective.
Despite this, Formula One is still where I wanted to be and where I was really happy to be.
So, during the difficult moments, I always try to remember why I’m doing what I’m doing, to take a step back and realise I’m still an F1 driver and that many young people around the world would love to be able to say that.
I’m very grateful to have had that opportunity.
It’s easy to forget that when things are frustrating and not going very well, but that’s life, that’s motorsport.
Happy memories of a soggy Suzuka
It also helps when you have a great team around you. I want to say a huge thank you to everyone at Williams - especially the people who have been there since I joined the team four years ago.
It’s always felt like a nice, close family feel and I always felt very comfortable in the team environment. That’s what I’ll miss most about Williams.
Especially when it’s difficult on track, it’s nice to feel comfortable with the team off track, so that friendly environment has definitely made me feel so welcome from day one.
Obviously, a lot of people have come and gone, there are those that are newer in the team as of this year, those that have been there for one, two or three years of my tenure, so for everyone who’s played a part in that, a huge thank you.
As I said, it’s a shame we weren’t able to achieve the results we both hoped to collectively, but I wish everyone the very best going into the coming seasons.
“It’s always felt like a nice, close family feel and I always felt very comfortable in the team environment. That’s what I’ll miss most about Williams.”
Naturally, when you spend four years with anybody, particularly a team that travels on the road a lot together, you grow quite close bonds and friendships, so it’s definitely something I’ll carry on for a very long time.
Good luck with the future and I’ll be following along and cheering on you guys from the sofa, and wishing you all the best.
Nicky and Jost share a moment at the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix
I’ve also been lucky to have two great teammates along the way, working with George and Alex throughout the years.
With George, it was my first time being teammates with him, though I’d raced against him in Formula 2 before.
Nicky and George got on very well during their time together as teammates
We had a great two years and got on very well on a personal and working level. He’s definitely someone I would call a friend.
I learned a lot from him and it’s great to see what he’s doing at Mercedes now.
Then Alex joined the team and we were reunited as teammates, having worked together in Formula 2 in 2018. That relationship has been equally as good.
“Working with George and Alex has been great.”
We were already quite good friends beforehand, quite similar characters in a way, probably the two most similar on the grid.
So, that relationship has been as nice on a personal level as on the working side too.
Nicky and Alex also struck up a great relationship on and off track
I’ve tried to stay true to my core values and beliefs of just being nice, kind, and respectful - treat everyone the way you want to be treated.
I guess you don’t always have the opportunity to portray those values to the wider audience, because they often only see you when you’re put in front of the camera or when you’re a little emotional or heated after a session, so that can be difficult.
“I’ve tried to stay true to my core values and beliefs of just being nice, kind, and respectful - treat everyone the way you want to be treated.”
It’s very easy to come across differently, but I know the way I am, the people who I care about know the person I am, so, that’s what’s most important.
I appreciate all the fans and their support, especially my true fans who have stuck with me through the difficult moments.
Nicky was finally able to enjoy a home Grand Prix in 2022
In terms of what’s next, I have no immediate plans and nothing to announce.
I’m looking forward to Christmas holidays and to spend time with family, before I prepare to take advantage of any opportunity that comes along and to make the most of whatever that may be.
I’m very grateful to have been in the position that I’ve been in for three years as an F1 driver.
I now want to end that period on as positive a note as possible. You know that in life, and much more in general, nothing is forever, especially coming into this sport.
I knew there were never any guarantees to stay for as long as I had hoped to stay.
“I’m very grateful to have been in the position that I’ve been in for three years as an F1 driver.”
It affects everyone differently. Obviously, when the Williams family stepped away, although I had just joined the team, I had developed quite a nice bond with Claire and the family, so that was a very sad moment for the team and the sport.
And naturally, on a personal level, I’ll deal with my departure in my own way and I’ve come to terms with it.
You have to move on and focus on the next thing, whatever that may be.
Finally, I just wanted to say to all the Williams fans and to my fans, a huge thank you for all the support over my three years as a race driver with the team.
As I said, it’s obviously been very up and down at times, but I appreciate the messages of support and encouragement, especially in those difficult moments and I’m just sorry we couldn’t achieve better things together.
It’s been a real pick me up to see the kind and positive words in the difficult moments and I hope to have your support in whatever I choose to do next.
THANK YOU, NICKY
Enjoy a 10% discount on all official Williams merchandise to mark the final race of the 2022 season. Use code RACE10.